Your National Day Musical Interlude: Paul Robeson Sings The Chinese National Anthem

In 1949, civil rights activist, professional football player, and stage actor Paul Robeson — a man of many talents, one would say — toured Europe amid controversy over his political leanings (in one word: left). During this trip, Robeson, a friend of China whose father was a runaway slave, gave a rather famous rendition of “March of the Volunteers,” a song that begins, “Arise! All those who don’t want to be slaves!”

That was the year that March of the Volunteers was first used as a Chinese national anthem. And, of course, on October 1 of that year, Mao Zedong would take the rostrum in Tiananmen Square and declare, “The Chinese people have stood up.”

How time passes. Blue skies and perfect temperatures are out on this, the 63rd birthday of New China. We hope you’re enjoying it. Youku video for those in China after the jump.

(H/T Marshall Wang)

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